Today’s Word from Pastor Tom Kidd…
I admit I am going through a bit of sports withdrawal. It can be pathetic. Every time I watch a replay of the ’95 Mariners coming back to beat the Yankees three in a row to make it to the American League Championship, I get hopeful for a new season. No matter how many times I watch the replay, though, they still lose to Cleveland in the league championship. Being a fan of Seattle baseball is like every year watching a replay of the “Titanic.” Couldn’t they just once miss the iceberg? Nope.
“Field of Dreams” is one of my favorite baseball movies. Remember the scene where one of the mythic ball players asks the question of Ray Kinsella (the Costner character), “Is this heaven?” Kinsella simply responds, “It’s Iowa.” Actually, “Field of Dreams” is less a baseball movie than it is a parable about human longing and dreams connecting us with an unfulfilled past. Kinsella connects with his long-deceased father over a game of catch. A dream comes true.
Is this heaven? Great question. I often hear people refer to Whidbey Island as a bit of heaven. My mother, God bless her memory, used to say it all the time, sitting out on her deck, looking out over the water, “This is heavenly.” But Covid-19, with its sheltering in place, over 80,000 fellow Americans dead, and horrific economic implications, can all make the notion of heaven seem little more than a far-off dream. “Is this heaven?” No, it’s Whidbey Island.
Sister Dorothy Day was one of my heroes of faith. Born in 1897, her life was like ours in many ways… a mixture of good and broken decisions. In 1927, she converted to Catholicism and became a fierce defender of the poor and disenfranchised. A co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, she was an early 20th Century activist, combining a deep spiritual devotion with social action during The Great Depression, another time of enormous suffering. In 2015, Pope Francis identified her as one of the four great Americans along with Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and Thomas Merton.
I find it interesting how a line can stick with you and shape your world view. Day wrote, “If Jesus said, ‘I am the way,’ then all the way to heaven IS heaven because Jesus said, ‘I am the way.’ (John 14)” Fascinating. Heaven is not heaven because of a beautiful location, but because we walk with Jesus.
You are generous people. The people of Trinity Lutheran delight in sharing, putting flesh on their love, and being a little Christ to their neighbor. Not just because of a pandemic, but because it is your walk. And maybe without realizing it, you are a piece of a parable, helping someone in need connect with a missing piece of their past where mysteriously the Kingdom of God comes close.
I recognized her, but had not seen her for years. She had used our church parking lot; it was a Park and Ride for commuters. I remembered her tired car which struck me as somewhat of a metaphor for how she presented. “I want to thank you for saving my life.” Excuse me? She reflected on a time when I had walked over to her car, where she was sitting with the door open. “You asked me if I was alright. I wanted you to know I was planning on committing suicide that day, but that changed when you took the time to check on me.” Though long forgotten, I did remember that three-minute event, and I did remember the little voice that had said, “Go over to that car.”
Heaven is heaven not because of where we live, but because we walk with Jesus where we live. Just keep being who you are as the people of God. You just never realize how a small act of love can become a critical piece of a living parable for someone in need.
“Go Mariners!” They are undefeated this year. Whether baseball happens or not, we are one day closer to being the people of God together again.